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Products For Robots calls on humans for help - The Red and Black : Variety

Products For Robots calls on humans for help

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Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 12:00 pm | Updated: 11:17 pm, Mon Jan 28, 2013.

Products For Robots, a video game developing company, is attempting to enhance what Athens is known for.

The city has always been known as a launch pad for many famous musicians, artists and professional sports players, but has never been too big on the video game scene.

Products For Robots launched a Kickstarter campaign for its upcoming and first game, "Metacell," in December. Its goal is to reach $35,000 by February to get all the funding needed to launch their completed game by late this year or early 2014. The plan is to have it on multiple platforms including mobile, tablet, Xbox LIVE, Steam and on the computer for Windows, Mac and Linux.

“We’re working on as many paths as we can to get this project going,” said John Posey, the creative head of the company, “but each one has different options available. It’s almost like an adventure game where you have to figure out which quest you want.”

Products For Robots is a small company with only seven members, each in charge of different tasks. Posey is the man behind the idea, who grew up in Athens and loves the town. Caitlin Downs is the writer and editor, who just graduated from the University of Georgia in December. Chris Goodrich is in charge of the artwork and animation. Tom DiCesare is the programmer focusing on the game’s engine development. Adam Byer is the sound engineer in charge of sound effects. Scott Andrews is in charge of the music and lead guitarist of the band Space Vikings which is writing all of the game’s soundtracks. Al Williams is the 3D designer.

"Metacell" has been in the works since April of 2011, and it is finally coming to a head with its Kickstarter campaign.

"Metacell" is a 2D match-three puzzle shooter reminiscent of a combination between "Bubble Spinner," "Galaga" and "Tetris." The free trial beta can be downloaded from their website (listed below), and will give you some insight of things to come. There are still many new features to be added to the game, including local multiplayer, challenges and a casual mode.

“What we have playable right now is what we got done in the time frame we had with a very confined time table,” Posey said. “And we just wanted to get a prototype to the open market, so we just made one simple mechanic of the match-three system. We chose the match-three simple, arcade feel because it was our first game and we wanted to make sure we could get the thing done. And I’ve been getting a lot of flak from the gaming industry about the fact it’s a match-three game, but I’ve tried to make it more unique feeling, I wanted it to have an intense retro feel.”

The 2D twitch shooter isn’t the only part of "Metacell," however. Products For Robots has much more coming. The first "Metacell" game is part one of a five part series in which each part has a different style of play. The second part is going to be a shooter game with role playing elements, the third part is going to be more of a traditional role playing game, and the saga will continue to get more complex and follow the same central storyline as it progresses.

“There’s going to be profile linking,” Downs said, “so as we get more games out you’ll be able to take your same character through all the different levels. The story carries over, and based on the decisions that you make and the way that you play in the first game, that will affect how the story plays out in the second, third and fourth games and so on — kind of like a build-your-own-adventure sort of thing, and it all ties in together.”

The story will be central to the game and will become a mutable story with different playable characters that will adapt to how you play. The game will feature many cutscenes following High Paladin Dominic Moore in his quest to stop an accidentally synthesized monster, known as the Metacell, from crossing over from an alternate universe, the metaverse, and destroying our universe, the primeverse.

“I kind of threw out the suggestion that I wanted to have a little bit of a 1980s anime feel,” Goodrich said, “but a bit modernized because we were going for that hard sci-fi storyline.”

Another big part of "Metacell" is the music written by the space metal band, Space Vikings, who formed (and kind of disbanded) during the game’s development. The band had created three main tracks for the Beta but is currently auditioning for keys, guitar and bass now.

“They were more like a growling metal band with the space metal behind it,” Posey said. “But Scott and I and Matthew Beaver [drummer] of Space Vikings are restarting the band and pushing it as a part of the "Metacell" universe. So the cool thing with the Kickstarter is that it doesn’t just kickstart a game, it also kickstarts a band, and kind of gets them on their way as well.”

The Kickstarter campaign also includes an animated film about the team called the "Imaginary Awesome Studio." This is something the team has created to chronicle their progress and introduce themselves. It features different art styles, from drawn characters to stop-motion puppets, put together by Posey, Goodrich and Downs.

“We invented the puppet, stop-motion style because we wanted to do something with good production value obviously,” Goodrich said, “so we decided to do that because it kind of played to our strengths.”

The Kickstarter page lists numerous prizes they will give out for donations based on the size of the donation. These prizes range from a legendary high five (for $5) to becoming a main character in the "Metacell" saga (for $10,000) with many T-shirts and special game editions in between. At the moment $4,206 have been pledged to the project, so Products For Robots has a way to go before it hits its goal.

“We basically just need enough money to take this game that we have, that we already love, to the next level,” Downs said.

Contact:

The Products For Robots website: http://productsforrobots.com/products/videogames/metacell

The Metacell Kickstarter page: http://www.Kickstarter.com/projects/productsforrobots/metacell

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